Best Online PhDs in Social Work
Advanced Programs, Milestones and Resources for Social Work Students
Earning an online PhD in social work gives students the chance to not only be part of, but spearhead processes for major social changes. Students learn to recognize a personal or widespread social problem and exploring solutions through safe, ethical methods. Graduates bring their knowledge and experiences into the practice of clinical social work, engage with social issues on a political level through policy changes, or teach future generations of social workers about best practices in the field. See what kinds of options are available to those interested in pursuing an online social work PhD.
Search Online PhD in Social Work Programs
Picking the right doctoral degree program depends on many individual factors. Below is a way to filter through accredited social work PhD programs based on their size, acceptance rate, location, student population, and the type of college: public or private.
Student Timeline: Earning a Social Work PhD Online
Social workers with a lot of experience in their field are most often the ones seeking a PhD. They have recognized the need for leadership and change within the field, and may want a way to explore how they can fill that need. In addition to specializations in areas such as substance abuse or crisis management, PhD programs prepare graduates to lead the social work industry and encourage and enact change. Here are some of the major milestones students can expect during their social work doctorate education.
2017: Best Online PhD Programs for Social Work
Students seeking an online doctoral degree in social work need to find a program that fits within their level of time commitment and budget. Determining those two factors can give a baseline for what to expect when going back to school. Students can use this information along with the following list; a ranking of the best accredited social work PhD programs currently available online. Students can sort them by factors such as cost, graduation rate, and student to teacher ratios.
The PhD in social work is designed to prepare students for roles as educators, leaders and researchers in the field of social work through positions in governmental agencies and private groups. Although online courses are taught in virtual classrooms, distance learners will have to occasionally attend meetings in person. Courses are synchronous, meaning students and instructors have to be online at the same time. Students can complete the 60 credit hour program in three years plus an additional summer of study. The program is highly competitive, admitting no more than seven new students every two years. Those with a master’s degree in social work are usually given preference.
- In-State Tuition$38,120
- Student Population16,787
- Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid89%
- Number of Students per Instructor15
Students can choose from a program emphasis on either social work policy and implementation or social work practice. No matter which emphasis they choose, students may focus on a specific field of study including children and family, health and mental health, and gerontology. Fordham’s School of Social Services has been cited by the Council on Social Work Education for “esprit de corps of the faculty and the interaction of the faculty and students.” Some students will have the opportunity to teach students in the master’s degree program. The PhD program uses the multicultural nature of the New York Metropolitan area to prepare students for work with diverse populations.
- In-State Tuition$45,238
- Student Population15,286
- Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid79%
- Number of Students per Instructor14
The PhD in social work degree is designed to build on the education graduate students have already achieved by supplementing it with studies based on the scientific method. The program includes not just electives and foundational courses, but also doctoral research and advanced seminars. Upon graduating, program participants will be prepared for roles as policy makers, educators, practitioners and administrators. The Intercollegiate Graduate Statistics Program is one of the advanced research curricula available to those who are accepted into the program. Distance learners can choose from either part-time or full-time options.
- In-State Tuition$11,003
- Student Population27,845
- Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid75%
- Number of Students per Instructor17
Principles Learned in an Online Social Work PhD Program
PhD in Social Work
Social work PhD students learn to critically evaluate the history of social work, its mission and its core values. They can assess how research and evaluation may be used to improve social interventions and advance theory development, and they can apply theory, knowledge and research to develop innovative approaches to social issues.
All doctoral social work programs teach students to apply their knowledge and strategies in ethical, professional ways. Social workers interact with vulnerable people and populations, and anyone trained in this field understands how to maintain impeccable ethics and boundaries in whichever area of social work they may choose to work in.
Doctoral degree graduates are able to explore current research, gather data using research and statistical tools, and utilize best practices and theory to address social needs. They can then come up with prevention and intervention strategies that address these problems and advocate for various social groups.
Promote social change
Online social work PhD graduates have learned leadership skills as well as compassion for and attention to the many levels of the human condition. These graduates are equipped to promote social change as they collaborate with leaders, agencies and universities, advocating for social justice and policy changes that advance the economic and social well-being of culturally diverse populations. Their leadership promotes sustainable changes that improve the quality of social work everywhere.
Master’s in Social WorkLEARN MORE ABOUT ONLINE MASTER’S IN SOCIAL WORK
Bachelor’s in Social WorkLEARN MORE ABOUT ONLINE BACHELOR’S IN SOCIAL WORK
What Can I do with a PhD in Social Work?
Doctoral social work graduates have demonstrated their commitment to furthering the field, and their leadership skills, knowledge of ethical practice and theory, critical consideration of policy and pledge to help others can be of use in many different areas of the workforce. The following are a few options available to PhD graduates.
Social workers help groups or individual people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers in particular diagnose and treat mental, behavioral and emotional issues. Clinical social workers often work in private practice but may also work in mental health clinics, hospitals, schools and universities.
Behavioral disorder counselors, also known as substance abuse or addiction counselors, advise people who suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction. They provide treatment and support individually or in group sessions. Clients learn to cope with life’s problems in ways that help them recover, and to recognize and avoid problem behaviors. These counselors also help clients rebuild professional and personal relationships.
Social scientists are researchers who plan, design, conduct, manage and report on social research projects. They investigate the attitudes, behavior and experiences of population samples on specific issues using a variety of methods, such as interviews, survey questionnaires and focus groups. Their research findings may be used to shape policy or to examine the effectiveness of existing policy.
Professionals in this field educate new generations of social workers at the associate, bachelor’s or post-graduate level. They may also conduct research, either privately or through the institution where they are employed, and publish papers on new topics related to the field of social work such as health policy, child welfare or mental health.
Graduates from PhD programs in social work have a range of career options, and if they choose to join the field of social work, there are still many different ways to engage with clients as individuals, within a specialized group, as a community, or as a population. Here are several reputable organizations designed for those interested in social work and leadership within this field.
This organization sets standards for clinical social workers. They set and promote national social work standards, publish position statements, and certify clinical social workers, supervisors, children/families practitioners, and psychoanalysts.
This membership organization seeks to strengthen community organization and social administration. They offer networking opportunities and promote information about social work and community organization.
This membership coalition of professional social workers seeks to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to encourage and promote sound social policies.